“That’s Entertainment” lives up to its title: a riveting hour that mixes plot and character development with horror and comedy in the way that only “Gotham” can. While the rest of DCTV has been letting me down lately, “Gotham” is my DCTV happy place.
This episode gives us the final answer on the Joker’s origin, Penguin as a reluctant ally to the GCPD, and new twists with the League of Shadows. And as a bonus, we get some BabyBatCat, a warm fuzzy moment with Alfred, and the best TV meta moment EVER.
Let’s break it all down, starting with the marquee story of the evening.
Last week we met Jerome’s identical twin, Jeremiah. Supposedly the “good” twin, though I had my doubts. Jerome seemed to want nothing more than to kill his twin.
Well, no. Actually, there was something more he wanted: To prove that Jeremiah could be as crazy as he was.
The only one Jerome just wants to kill is Bruce Wayne, for interfering with his plans before.
To get his hands on both Bruce and Jeremiah, Jerome and a bunch of henchmen take over a music festival and offer up some grisly entertainment: literally blowing the heads off hostages using bombs triggered by a radio transmitter.
To stop Jerome, Jim gets Bruce and Jeremiah to agree to surrender themselves, thus bringing a jammer into range so he can’t blow anyone else up.
That part of the plan almost works, but Jerome’s own plans always have multiple layers. In this case, one of those layers is up in the air. It’s a blimp, carrying a load of the “Laughing Gas” created by the Scarecrow.
Enter the reluctant ally.
The bird in the hand
Last week, Penguin was certain Jerome would flame out. This week, he’s merely certain that Jerome is batshit crazy, and runs to Jim Gordon to beg him to stop him. “He scares the living hell out of me, okay?” he confesses.
But Penguin can’t help them find Jerome, because Jerome has been very careful not to tell any of his League of Horribles all of his plans. He has, however, warned the other Horribles that Penguin would likely betray them. That leads to Penguin getting knocked out and put onto that blimp.
And this is where Penguin gets to be Gotham’s hero once more, stopping the release of the Laughing Gas and steering the blimp over the river, where he’s then left to wait until someone can get him in touch with a real blimp pilot to help him land the darned thing.
Penguins are flightless birds, after all.
We’ve seen Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin be conniving, angry, murderous, and yes, occasionally scared. This time we got to see him be funny as well, and it was a pleasure.
One last layer
While Penguin is busy on the blimp, Jim gets Jerome literally out on a ledge and shoots him. But villains don’t die quite that easily in Gotham; Jerome is still literally hanging on when Jim looks over the side. It gives Jerome a chance to issue a grim warning: “I’m an idea. A philosophy. And I’ll live on in the shadows of Gotham’s discontent.”
Jerome then falls to his death, splayed out on top of a car in a pose like that of Jack Nicholson’s Joker in the first Batman movie. But death is never the end of the story in Gotham.
Jeremiah returns to his bunker after everything, never even glancing at his twin’s body but seemingly agreeing to an offer to work with Bruce Wayne. When he gets home, he finds a present on his desk, bearing a Wayne Enterprises card.
You want to scream at him, “Don’t open the box!” But of course, he does, finding a jack-in-the-box inside. The creepy toy comes with an even creepier surprise: A special blend of Laughing Gas, created just for Jeremiah.
The Joker is born.
Once again, kudos to Cameron Monaghan for his portrayal of both Valeska brothers. Both versions scare the bejeezus out of me, just as they should.
Out of the shadows
While Jerome and his Horribles have been causing havoc, Barbara is learning new things about the League of Shadows. Her new bffs take her to a home owned by Ra’s al Ghul, and to a special chamber where she finds a 400-year-old painting of herself and Ra’s, along with artifacts and ancient manuscripts.
While Barbara is thrilled with the possibilities of this find, Tabitha is less than impressed. She doesn’t like what she sees happening to Barbara. Expressing that gets her thrown out of Ra’s mansion, and gets her a beatdown by some of the assassins.
But Barbara’s League of Shadows isn’t the only shadowy operation in town. Tabitha gets picked up by another group claiming loyalty to Ra’s al Ghul.
The Joker, the League of Horribles, two groups of assassins… and don’t forget Penguin and Riddler! Gotham’s discontent is going to get deeper.
But wait, there’s more!
I mentioned a couple of things that delighted me so much with this episode. The first was a birthday celebration for Bruce. Alfred brings him into the Wayne Manor garage and presents him with a key fob. It unlocks a sweet matte black Ford Mustang. That alone is delightful; the Batmobile of the 1960s TV series was created by Ford designers and I appreciate that callback. (More on another Batman 66 callback in a moment.)
What was also wonderful about this scene was the story Alfred told about Bruce’s seventh birthday, and his little red wagon. It is so clear just how much Alfred loves this young man, and their hug drew an “awww” from me. I love these two together and am so happy to see them reconciled.
Selina also pops by for this little party, and there’s a very sweet moment between her and Bruce, before Jim Gordon comes to break things up with the bad news about Jerome. It has been so wonderful to watch David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova playing these two characters, whether they are teasing each other, being angry at each other or flirting with each other.
And that leads me to why Gotham is my DCTV happy place. The essential nature of the characters are never forgotten for the sake of a laugh (looking at you, Legends of Tomorrow). We’ve seen pain and division between Bruce and Alfred, Jim and Harvey, but those divisions feel natural rather than forced (looking at you, Arrow). Yes, there’s a problematic good guy in Harvey Bullock, but he’s making a concerted effort to be better and is well aware of his faults (looking at you, Flash… or rather, looking at Ralph. And looking at Mick on Legends, much as I do love him and recognize that he won’t ever try to be better because that’s not in his nature).
Gotham manages to do all of this well, and still slip in some really delightful Easter eggs. Which leads me to The Best Meta Moment Ever:
Jerome and his Arkham Asylum Lunatics on stage at the Gotham Music Festival, playing the Batman ‘66 theme.
The. Best. Meta. Moment. EVER.
The Gotham team wins the Grand Prize for Self-Awareness. Everyone else can pack up and go home in that game. You won’t beat what Gotham did. Ever.
Gotham airs Thursday nights at 8/7 Central on FOX.